On May 5, the new Star Trek television series, entitled Strange New Worlds, will drop on the Paramount Plus streaming service and may chart the course for the future of the Trek franchise. As it stands now, the Star Trek property stands at a crossroads. Many of the long-time hard-core fans of the franchise have become critical of the direction the producers have taken and how the main timeline of the series seems to break continuity with the episodes created a generation ago conspicuously. Can a new show reunite the fanbase?
It’s possible. With Strange New Worlds, the showrunners (Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman) have promised to return to a more episodic format, eschewing single stories that last the season length that can run anywhere from ten to thirteen episodes. Trek began as an episodic show, with each new episode bringing a new planet or some new adventure and wrapped up at the end of the hour. Most shows, especially those that are exclusive to streaming services, are more serialized in structure, and resolutions to long storylines are often not reached until the last episode of a season. Certainly, the two most recent live-action Star Trek offerings, Star Trek: Discovery, and Star Trek: Picard, have fit into this style. It may be a throwback to an older style of Trek storytelling to see a return to a more episodic format.
The older storytelling style certainly won’t be the only such throwback. Visually, the show has lots of bright colors and the general visual look that made the original Star Trek series distinct. Sure, they updated it with better sets and more interesting control panels, but the producers were clearly striving for an aesthetic recalling the original series. Why? Because this show takes place before that show.
To clarify: Strange New Worlds is set around 2260 and is a spin-off of Star Trek: Discovery. In that show’s second season, the Discovery encounters the famous ship, the Enterprise, which at the time was under the command of Captain Pike. After taking temporary command of the Discovery, he returns to the Enterprise, and this new show, Strange New Worlds, will follow these adventures. Captain Pike is an important character in the lore of Star Trek, but until recent years, he has not been used a lot. The original unaired Star Trek pilot episode “The Cage” (completed in 1965) had Jeffrey Hunter playing Pike, as captain of the Enterprise. Under his command was the female first officer, known only as “Number One,” and Spock, a lieutenant. This episode did not air, but creator Gene Roddenberry was given a rare chance to try again. His second pilot featured the familiar Captain Kirk as the lead with Spock as his first officer, and the events of “The Cage” were told in a flashback during a second season episode. So, to make this all clear, Pike was the captain of the Enterprise for about 14 years before Kirk took command, and this Strange New Worlds show will chronicle some of these adventures.
The show’s greatest assets are the actors chosen for the leads, with the three main ones already having been introduced in Discovery. As before, Pike is played by Anson Mount. He personifies the professionalism of a true Star Trek captain while still having the Kirk-like swagger suited for Star Trek. His performance is in the same vein as Bruce Greenwood’s performance of the same character (albeit in an alternate timeline), as shown in the films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Ethan Peck reprises his role of the iconic Spock, whom he played in the second season of Discovery, and Rebecca Romijn also returns as Number One (her first name, we learn, is, indeed, Una.)
The rest of the cast is comprised of new actors mainly playing new characters. However, we do see the familiar character of Uhura (now played by Celia Rose Gooding) and a character named La’an N Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), who will no doubt cause a stir with old school Star Trek fans due to an obvious connection with the iconic villain Khan Noonien-Singh, who the Enterprise has no knowledge of until Kirk encounters him.
The main actors for this show know their roles, and the showrunners seem knowledgeable of the legacy that this show must honor. We are now days away from seeing if Trek going back into its past is the best way for it to go forward.
Keep up to date on Pocono news, art, and events by following us on the Newsbreak app.